By Stephanie Krauss, graduate student, Simmons College
Alice Mary Moran was born in October of 1884 in Worcester, Massachusetts to Irish immigrants Patrick and Mary Moran. She attended Worcester High School and continued her education at Tyler's Business College. Bergen studied English, and later worked as both a bookkeeper and a stenographer in Worcester. She married William Aloysius Bergen in 1903. William "Bill" Bergen was a Major League Baseball catcher, who played for the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Superbas. Bergen was one of the worst major league hitters of his time, batting only a .170. Bill Bergen traveled often, perhaps leaving Alice with more time to work outside the hone and participate in social and political movements of the time. After their marriage, Alice Bergen became involved in both the women's rights and labor movements.
Bergen fought for women's suffrage as a member of the National Woman's Party. Bergen was also a member of the Massachusetts Suffrage Association of Boston, an affiliate of the National American Women Suffrage Association. On September 3, 1915 the Springfield Republican newspaper noted that Bergen, along with Mrs. Mary Kennard and Miss Marion Richards, were beginning their suffrage campaign in Orange, Massachusetts. The women went door to door, dispersing suffragist literature and answering voters' questions. Bergen later picketed the White House with the National Woman's Party, in a campaign that lasted from 1917 until 1919. She also traveled to New York City and joined an NWP demonstration at the Metropolitan Opera House when President Wilson spoke there on March 5, 1919.
Bergen was also very engaged with women's labor issues. She was the secretary of the Worcester branch of the National Women's Trade Union League. In 1921, Bergen wrote an article entitled, "Where Opposition Stimulates Effort," for Life and Labor, the bulletin published by the League. The bulletin was a compilation of news and accomplishments, opinion articles, and calls for action. In the article, Bergen describes the creation of the Worcester Branch of the National Women's Trade Union League. The League was instrumental in organizing food workers in 1916, retail clerks in 1918, and leather workers in 1919. The League also provided workshops and banquets for its members, in addition to creating floats for the Central Labor Union's annual parade. Bergen's efforts in the League were possibly fueled by her continuous work outside the home. In 1944 she was employed as a telephone operator in Worcester.
Throughout her lifetime, Alice Bergen was an active citizen, fighting for women's right to work and women's suffrage. Her work with the National Women's Trade Union League, the National Woman's Party, and the Massachusetts Suffrage Association of Boston brought awareness to unfair labor practices and the need for women voters, which greatly contributed to the fight for economic and political gender equality. Alice Bergen died in August of 1951 and is buried in Saint Johns Cemetery in Worcester, Massachusetts.
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Massachusetts. Worcester. 1940 U.S. Census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. June 28, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
"Orange." Springfield Republican. September 3, 1915.
"Pickets and Protests." Woman's Journal (29 Sept 1917), 337. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
"Suffs Fight in Street to Burn Wilson Speech," New York Herald, March 5, 1919, pp. 1-2.
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Women's Trade Union League, The History of Trade Unionism Among Women in Boston. Boston: Women's Trade Union League of Massachusetts,1906.